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Letter to Bishop of Copenhagen

Letter from the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit to The Rt. Rev. Peter Skov-Jakobsen, Bishop of Copenhagen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, after attacks in Copenhagen.

18 February 2015

The Rt. Rev. Peter Skov-Jakobsen
Bishop of Copenhagen
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark

Dear Bishop,

Again acts of terror have hit our Nordic countries. And again we have to express our condemnations and our condolences. Your dear, open, lively and welcoming Copenhagen has become an arena for acts of disregard for the precious value of human lives. Even more, it has become an arena for targeted attacks and killing of people who gather for noble and meaningful purposes: to discuss the fundamental right of freedom of speech as a pillar of democracy; and in a gathering of the Jewish community to confirm and celebrate a young person’s life. As you and your country are so close in geography, culture, history and church life to my own Norway, and the Jewish communities in our countries are so close to one another, I want to express how this also affects me in a personal way. As WCC general secretary, I am informed of evil acts like this around the world on an almost daily basis, and we try to share our solidarity in prayers and expressions of comfort and condemnation. This time, it was in your country, in our Nordic region.

You and your people are in our prayers these days. Your church has a strong voice for justice and peace and for living together in the mystery and gift of creation as human beings. In a situation like this we are reminded of the wisdom of Grundtvig; our shared and vulnerable humanity is what first and most of all unites us. This is also expressed in the unity statement from the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea.

The Church has a special calling to show that this unity of humanity is real; and, I know and trust that you and your church are among the strongest voices for basic solidarity with the victims and all those affected by these criminal acts. I am also encouraged to hear the solidarity expressed with all those Muslims who might feel stigmatized after events such as this. The extent of the public gatherings following these attacks speaks volumes about the commitment of the people and the faith communities of Denmark to building an open and safe society for all.

I am particularly concerned that our Jewish sisters and brothers have been the targets of terror and violence in these attacks. They belong to and have their place in our societies, historically, now and in the future. I know how the Jewish community and its leaders and members have contributed to society and public life in your country. The attack on them is an attack on the whole society. These anti-Jewish sentiments and actions must be addressed in appropriate and effective ways. This is a matter of how to build societies of justice and peace nationally and globally.

We were deeply inspired by your visit to the Ecumenical Centre some time ago; and, I recognize how much your episcopal leadership, Det Mellomkirkelige Råd, DanChurchAid and the Ecumenical Council in Denmark contribute to the common efforts we now pursue on our joint Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. May the righteousness in our Lord Jesus Christ continue to inspire you and the peace of God fill your hearts.

In Christ,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary